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  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 7:52am
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Hong Kong may amend its race hate law to protect mainland visitors

Widening the legislation could be an option to protect mainland visitors, says equality chief, after 'anti-locust' protests in Tsim Sha Tsui

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 February, 2014, 11:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 February, 2014, 9:06am
 

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Hong Kong could extend its anti-discrimination laws to protect mainlanders against abuse, as the debate over the number of visitors to the city becomes increasingly vitriolic.

The chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Dr York Chow Yat-ngok, said yesterday it was possible to amend race hate laws to cover discrimination against members of the same ethnic group. Chow, a former health minister, said such a move would be difficult but that it was worth considering given the current climate.

Several senior government officials condemned the protest on Sunday that targeted mainland tourists in Tsim Sha Tsui, as animosity reaches new levels in the debate over how many tourists the city can handle.

Under the city's Race Discrimination Ordinance, inciting hatred against a person on the grounds of race or nationality is liable to criminal prosecution. It would not apply to Sunday's incident as mainlanders and Hongkongers are of the same race and nationality.

"We may consider having the law amended to address discrimination within the same ethnic group," Chow said.

"We are in the process of reviewing the anti-discrimination laws, and will factor in the current situation and seek legal advice on how to include clauses to deal with this situation."

No one has been prosecuted under the ordinance since it came into effect in 2009.

Chow said that in 2008, when the ordinance was drafted, the government took the position that mainlanders and Hongkongers should not be differentiated by race and nationality.

Chow described Sunday's "anti-locust" protest, when police had to intervene as 100 people marched from the Star Ferry pier to Canton Road, as "unacceptable".

Slogans such as "Go back to China" and "Reclaim Hong Kong" were chanted, and some protesters shouted abuse at mainlanders. The protesters demanded the government curb tourist numbers to the city. The number of visitors is expected to grow to 100 million a year by 2023.

"Hongkongers have always treasured their freedom to protest and their freedom of speech. But we have to ensure that there is respect. [Hongkongers] cannot infringe upon other's rights," Chow said.

He added that calling mainland tourists "locusts" or other derogatory terms could be considered an act of discrimination.

Chow said legislation should be a last resort. "We should be aiming much higher. Hong Kong is a free and international city."

Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said yesterday the protesters' actions had gone "beyond what is permissible under the law".

"The fact that shops had to stop operating, that customers had to retreat into shops … seems to me that there was a breach of the peace. We are following up with this according to the law and we don't exclude the possibility of making arrests."

A local deputy to the National People's Congress was criticised in an editorial carried by Global Times, a state-run newspaper, for his proposal to limit the number of tourists coming to Hong Kong. It said a proposal by Michael Tien Puk-sun of the New People's Party was "selfish and only trying to maximise Hong Kong's interests".

Additional reporting by Tanna Chong and Ernest Kao

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This article is now closed to comments

honger
The law is neccessary before they drag the rest of us into the mud........Yup, i agree, "Yell against compatriot whereas bow to 'foreigners', how pathetic you are! "
mcheung
What about the Foreign Domestic Helpers? Try take a nice quiet stroll in Victoria Park.
bonniechin
My following comment (along with Ixflyer's) is slightly off-topic, but nonetheless is related to this thread. I think it is quite common for white-collar job seekers in HK to be faced with the following ridiculous scenario: If you're Chinese, you're expected to be trilingual (English, Cantonese and Mandarin).... But if you're white, you don't even need to speak English properly.
ejmciii
Good point. Singapore is utterly irrelevant in SE Asia. Wait, no. An independent city state with solid finance, tourism and trade sector? How could that happen. The truth is the masters in Beijing need us to heel like good pups as they take all the benefits of HK to Shanghai and other cities and then leave us behind. Thank you, comrade. We needed to know that we need to bend over to China.
relene
Hong Kong is pathetic tiny city. I feel bad for the people living there. They don't know who they are when UK gave Hong Kong back to China.... They wanna be Chinese and they wanna be governed by British Queen...sigh
Sass789
At this point, HK should just change their motto of being an international city. Because they're not, they only want locals and everyone else isn't welcomed. Just ban tourism altogether.
I'm saddened/disgusted that such a developed city is acting this way in the 21st century. Laughable. Have fun living among yourselves...
johndoe
Now everyone can see in plain sight what the purpose of these "anti discrimination" laws are: suppressing opposition and censorship.
Sass789
Exactly. If you don't want too many tourists, go to the gov't offices and protest there.
Insulting/harassing tourists won't do a darn thing and would only ruin the credibility of the movement. Once protestors start using hate speech, it's not a protest anymore. It just becomes a KKK rally(google it).
I find it ironic, Mainlanders are labeled as rude and uncivilized. Yet, all the protestors are acting the same way.
johnh
The tour guide's fault? Are the tourists all children or what? Do they need parental guidance to teach them how to be polite?
anotherguy
Silly arguments. Hk is suffering from its own willingness to be competitive and over indulgence in politics. What has this to do with mainland ? In fact they shouldn't help hk and let hk die naturally so there is no more reasons to blame anyone but themselves. Totally delusional and still coming out with silly arguments. Loser.

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